UK travel trends

ABTA report: UK travel trends Photo: Flickr CC / Judy Baxter

In the past 12 months, the travel industry has continued its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic against a backdrop of an ongoing rise in the cost of living. High energy bills, increased mortgage and rent payments and an uplift in day-to-day costs such as food and transport are among the price rises that have been putting a strain on household budgets.

The industry has also experienced a number of natural, man-made and technological challenges – from wildfires to strikes and an unprecedented air traffic control outage.

Despite this, bookings and confidence in travel are strong according to the latest report from ABTA, The Association of British Travel Agents.

ABTA report

The report is based on research with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people and was carried out in the last two weeks of August 2023. It looked at people’s holiday habits in the 12 months prior to that summer and what their travel plans are for the year ahead.

Overall, 84% of people went on holiday during the last year and 52% took a trip abroad. Of those who took a foreign trip, 61% went on a package holiday – the main market for many of the businesses in ABTA membership.

This appetite for travel looks set to continue into next year, with 64% of people saying they plan to take a trip overseas. The ongoing commitment to holidays is a reflection of people’s confidence in travel. For the first time ABTA has published a Travel Confidence Index, which shows remarkably high levels of confidence to travel overseas, notwithstanding the economic climate and events of the past year.

All-year-round travel

The report also explores a growing trend for ‘all-year-round travel’. Since the pandemic, travel agents have reported an increasing number of people travelling outside of peak periods, with May and June the most popular months for overseas travel in the coming year, and with a similar number of people saying they’ll head abroad in September and October rather than in July and August.

ABTA also studied how sustainability affected people’s holiday bookings and find half of people who travelled over the last 12 months said they took sustainability into consideration when making their holiday choice. This is a reminder of just how important it is for the industry to continue its journey to make travel more sustainable.

Despite the additional strains on household finances, many people are still taking multiple holidays a year, both at home and abroad. Spain was once again the UK’s favourite holiday destination, followed by France, Italy and the USA, which swap places when compared with last year, and Greece completing the top five.

What are your travel plans for next year?

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.